Argument from Authority

Much of the power of the CAGW position relies on argument from appropriate authority.

As of 1978, the word appropriate was not in the term.  Appropriate was added in the hopes of making a logical fallacy valid.  I have searched but cannot find where the change originated.  Since most frequently I see the term used when discussing CAGW, I suspect that may be the origin of the change.

What does the insertion of “appropriate” do for science or any other discipline (Carl Sagan said there were no authorities in science)  CAGW is supposed to be so complex only a climate scientist could understand it.  A condescending remark at best.  Basic science is understood by many.  Poor experimental design, name-calling, bullying–many people recognize this as not science.

For now, I will ignore the truth/falsity of the claim and go with the idea that there is an appropriate authority.  What is a climate scientist?  Consider the following scientists, based on actual scientists out there today:

Scientist A     PhD in physics and geology               Scientist H     PhD  in paleontology

Scientist B     PhD in atmospheric science            Scientist I     PhD in meteorology

Scientist C     PhD in meteorology                       Scientist J   PhD in environmental science

Scientist D    PhD in meteorology                       Scientist K      PhD in Ecology/Climatology

Scientist E     PhD in physics                                 Scientist L      PhD in applied mathematics

Scientist F     PhD in meteorology                            Scientist M     PhD in physics

Scientist G     PhD in theoretical physics

Which of these are climate science experts?  Which are climate scientists?  One could inquire about their GPA, the subject and content of their master’s and doctoral thesis in an effort to find the most qualified in their field.  The best and the brightest should be the appropriate authority, right?

That was not the choice of CAGW followers.  The criteria chosen was how many peer-reviewed articles each scientist had published.

First question:  How does writing a paper indicate who is brilliant and who is not?

Second question:  Who determines which journals qualify as peer-reviewed?  (Hint–it’s the same people who benefit from the classification of said journals.)

So the definition of the authority is independent of degree, schooling, thesis subject, and so forth.  It depends entirely on how many articles are published in approved journals.

I cannot find any justification for defining an expert as someone who can get a small number of peers to give his paper a thumbs up.  The small number of papers published versus papers written would also indicate a great deal of luck in getting the paper published.  Name recognition probably helps.  In addition, there are a lot of papers that are quite good that will never see the anointed status of “peer-reviewed” even though they were excellent papers with no errors in them.  Unless someone can empirically prove that publishing papers makes you smarter, faster and cooler than the guys with the exact same degree and education, this is not proof of expertise.  It’s an arbitrary definition that allows CAGW to choose whom they want to call authorities and control the story line.  One would also need to explain why a PhD in physics supporting CAGW with publishing in peer-reviewed journals makes you a superstar while the same degree means nothing if you disagree with the CAGW and are not published.  The education is the same–the knowledge of math, computer modeling, and so forth should be easily understood by the unpublished physicist.

The argument from appropriate authority is just an attempt to convince people that a logical fallacy can be altered to produce a desired outcome. Cleverly adding words to a logical fallacy does not make it any less a fallacy.  It’s still argument from authority and it’s still invalid.

One response I have seen to the authority question is concerning doctors.  You don’t go to a cardiologist for dentistry and vice-versa.  You don’t go to a cardiologist for treatment of dental problems, but cardiologists can and do recommend trips to the dentist.  Dentists and hygienists are trained to look for signs of heart disease and diabetes, mouth cancer, etc.  They don’t treat the problems but they can recognize the need for someone trained in another field to take a look.  One would hope if a patient went to a cardiologist on the recommendation of their dentist, the cardiologist would not tell them the dentist is overstepping his bounds and send them home.

Also, specialists in medicine look for what they are trained in.  Go to a infectious disease specialist for treatment of thrush and you may end up with months on an anti-fungal medicine because the thrush won’t heal.  The thrush was diagnosed, so the treatment is applied and applied.  Give up, try a periodontist and an otolaryngologist and it turns out the problem is an auto-immune disorder.  Had you gone with the specialist because he was the “authority” and stubbornly stuck with him, how long would a correct diagnoses have taken?  Would it ever have occurred?  Narrow fields of study may prevent a scientist from seeing anything outside their fields.  It may well be the answer lies outside their field–and dismissing anyone outside the field as “not an appropriate authority” is destroying any chance of the truth being found.  That’s why there are no authorities in science, only data.

The  latest in peer-review:   Flatulence on airplanes: just let it go  (Abstract only–paper is pay-walled)

31 comments on “Argument from Authority

  1. Tony, as I explained to Lazarus, my information is not what most would expect. Many, if not the majority, are “pro-climate change”. I compare methods and data and see whether or not the articles are done with proper science, what is missing in the data, etc. I do this for both sides. It is not a typical research method, as far as I can tell.

    I will try and give you some examples, starting with sea level rise: (very long document that is good for referencing–I did not read it cover to cover)–1.html

    As noted above, I do not agree with every single part of every single article. These are references to help me understand the science and the results. I may disagree with large parts or all of an article yet keep it because it have value in explaining how the debate is phrased and looked at.

    • Lazarus says:

      Looking at your links the first confirms retreating ice sheets – I suppose you choose not to believe that.

      So does the second link along with confirmation of the many other physical fingerprints of AGW including Ocean Acidification. All of it is extensively referenced and it would be interesting to know exactly what bits you choose not believe in as it confirms most of what I have said above.

      The third link also confirms glacier retreat if only because this paper suggests a sight recent increase of ice in one area in contrast to general trends. With this link I suppose you believe in the increase but not in the overall global decrease.

      The fourth link is a blog with an interview of a Dr. Nils-Axel Morner who is apparently a expert in dowsing! Yes the claimed ability of finding underground water using a stick.
      Randi is a true sceaptic.

      Interestingly Morner is a real scientist who has published over 65 peer reviewed papers – So I’m not sure why you would recommend him given your opinion on peer review – but lucky you, NONE of these papers had anything to do with sea level rise so it is OK to believe him when he is telling you what you want to hear on a subject that he is unqualified to talk about.

      The 5th link – Oh Dear! It is a blog claiming we are heading for another ice age, and seems to be a vehicle for selling alarmist books on that subject written by a former architect called Robert Felix. It all seems a bit nutty. No doubt you are happy to believe what ever any snake oil salesman says as long as he is telling you what you want to hear.

      The 6th link states “The analysis found an overall annual loss of 12.8 gigatonnes of glacier ice from the HKKH,”!!!

      The 7th link goes to a error page.

      The final link is another unqualified blog, though oddly one that attempts to debunk the hookum you believe.

      -snip- (you know better)

      • Corrected 7th link:

        Your comment on Morner concerning the fourth link is a poisoning the well fallacy. It is irrelevant to science.
        I have this “peer-reviewed” (I believe, since I have no list of “peer-reviewed” journals that are acceptable to climate science advocates) article by Morner and it does address sea level rises:

        Click to access Moerner_Science_environm_sea_level_3_11_Paper_534.pdf

        I do not dislike or disapprove of peer-reviewed articles. I do not accept that only peer-reviewed articles are acceptable sources of information for the study of climate science.

        An “unqualified blog” can present useful data and analysis which can then be checked via other sources. You certainly should understand that since you seem all for looking at all ideas. When I read the blog, I check links and go from there, noting any questions the blogger may have had and I look for answers to them. I cannot learn if I don’t check out all the opinions.

        I will answer your remaining points later on–I’m pressed for time right now.

  2. Tony Duncan says:


    Please provide the sources for your assertion that glaciers are not retreating, that the global temp has not risen, that floran and fauna changes are not real, that species extinction is not happening realted to that change, the same with rising sea levels, coral die off and ociean acidification. I too have done much reading in all these areas from many diverse sources and am prepared to detail them on any f these particulars that you care to discuss.

  3. I do not deny these are certain chemicals and elements that cause warming in the atmosphere. I dispute that we can know which chemicals in a highly intertwined, complex system interact, what checks and balances there are, and if the chemicals and gases humans add are actually harming the planet.

    I do acknowledge the increasing GHG’s (but not the conclusion that this is going to irrevocably damage the planet). I do not acknowledge rising global temps because of the shortcomings of the measurement methods and statistical methods used to determine this. I do not acknowledge retreating glaciers because I see no evidence of anything out of the ordinary. The same is true of the flora and fauna range changes, the extinction of species, rising sea levels, coral die-off and ocean acidification. My knowledge comes from many different researchers and books. It is not from one site, but rather hundreds. It is what I find most scientific and defensible.

    • Lazarus says:

      -snip- (Saying you aren’t going to use a word is saying it. Give it up.)

      • While I did snip your comment, it is because you continue to insist that the argument from authority is valid (and berating the writer). You have presented no evidence that people who write peer-reviewed documents on climate change are the only people who actually can understand climate change. There is no reason to believe that persons with equal degrees and training cannot understand the science. Also, there are thousands of scientists who do not agree with climate change theories. To dismiss them because they did not publish in select journals is not based on sound science. If one defines a field narrowly enough, one controls the output. Climate science is the most narrowly defined as far as expertise of any science out there. Why?

  4. Lazarus says:

    “Please explain, in detail, why I would have to rewrite the laws of physics to falsify the theory.”

    The laws of physics, for example one branch of the many that independently underpin the theory of AGW, spectrography, which is successfully used in many chemical, industrial and medical applications, shows that certain gases will absorb parts of the spectrum of light and emit it as IR (heat). Something that can be proven with school boy science. An increase in such gasses in any environment will cause an increase in warming in that environment. You need new physics to explain why this isn’t the cause of the predicted and now measured heating in our environment.

    I await your new theory to overturn the laws of physics.

    “Yes, at this point the only proof I see for climate change is a computer model.”

    -snip (try rewording without the insults) you wont acknowledge the increasing GHGs, increased global temps, melting ice caps, retreating glaciers, rising sea levels, flora and fauna range changes, altered seasons, increasing weather extremes, droughts and floods, rising extinction of species, ocean acidification, coral bleaching and die off, etc.

    NONE of this relies on ‘models,’ ALL has been the subject of published scientific research from many independent scientists form nations all over the globe.

    But perhaps you have seen a blog with non peer ‘research’ that tells you all this can be ignored and that is what you accept because that is what you want to believe?

  5. Lazarus: I’ll get right on drafting a letter to Harvard and the Smithsonian. Looks like I also need to add “Science” to that list, too.
    Theories in science have to be well-tested. Twenty-five years ago, there was no where near enough data to be “well-tested”. Testing a theory of climate using anything other than a computer model is very tricky. Plus, how would one falsify the theory of climate change? Every new objection is either ignored or a new explanation added (as in the flattening out of the temperatures for the past decade–now we need 17 years, though I really don’t know why 17 was the magic number). How does one falsify the climate change theory? (Maybe Harvard or the Smithsonian can let me know–I’ll ask.)

    • Lazarus says:

      -snip-(Claims of ignorance on the part of the writer are to be made with specific data only. Broad generalizations are not allowed.)

      To falsify this theory you would have to rewrite the basic laws of physics! Do you really think the only evidence for climate change caused by AGW is a computer model?

      • Please explain, in detail, why I would have to rewrite the laws of physics to falsify the theory.

        Yes, at this point the only proof I see for climate change is a computer model.

  6. Lazarus says:

    Hmmm… for some reason that link doesn’t seem to work on the blog, here is a direct link;

  7. PeterB in Indianapolis says:

    ” The scientific method clearly states that you must form an hypothesis”

    Global warming has long passed the hypothesis stage and has for generations been a scientific Theory;

    You could make a similar arguement about Evolution or Germ Theory but you would still be wrong.

    • It appears you do not understand the difference between inductive and deductive science, nor the difference between conclusive and probable. Climate change is NOT a theory, it’s a very poorly formed hypothesis with only modeling to test it. Models do not constitute proof in science. Since many of the predictions in climate change are a century out, we cannot definitively say if the hypothesis can be elevated to theory until at least the year 2100 where reality will either bear out the models or not. This, of course, depends on whether or not CO2 continues to rise and temperatures continue to rise. If the global average temperature drops to 12 degrees while CO2 doubles, the hypothesis is wrong. If the temperature rises 16 degrees average and CO2 was dropped to 250ppm (which could be fatal to plants–there’s a level in there where there is too little CO2), the hypothesis was wrong. All outcomes from current models are only based on “probable outcomes” and some are very little higher than chance. Not a very strong hypothesis.

      • Lazarus says:

        Reality check says:

        “Climate change is NOT a theory”

        Since you are so knowledgeable, you best tell the people at Harvard and the Smithsonian;…240..293R

        That paper is from 25 years ago and it was already well accepted as a scientific theory then.

  8. Actually, if I misunderstand, it’s because you are about as clear as fog.

    Enough of the “you don’t know science”. What are my degrees in? What do I do for a living? What fields have I worked in? You know nothing of the answers. You are again pretending to be psychic. Or trying to pretend because I disagree I am ignorant–nice try if that was the case.

    I fully understand how peer review works. I simply do not agree with your assessment of the process nor do I agree with your assessment of the value. You continue to confuse lack of understanding with lack of agreement.

    Relying on peer-reviewed articles is relying on FAITH in scientists. Plain and simple. You have to believe in something you cannot understand and you do so because someone you think can be trusted says so. Maybe a lot of people you think can be trusted. However, there are many, many things in life that a large number of people agree with that turn out to be wrong. North Koreans adore their dictator. Does that make him right? They live there and they would be the ultimate authority. It’s all about faith if you go with believing in what you cannot understand based on the word of “authorities”.

    If you have a problem with James Taylor, take it up with him. I do not control the skeptic community and have never claimed to do so.

    Hansen’s argument is the “Intelligent Design” argument: Intelligent design holds that an undirected process such as natural selection does not adequately explain certain features of the universe and only by adding an intelligent cause is the explanation complete Or:
    The current warming trend (creation of the universe) cannot be explained through natural processes. It is only when you add the anthropogenic (intelligent cause) component to the data that it adds up.
    Same argument. Plus, it is impossible that Hansen considered the millions of combinations, permutations and miscellaneous data that could be involved in climate science. He merely jumped to humans to because it’s what he wanted. Show me what he considered–oceans, clouds, trees, animals, the sun, etc and that he considered every single possible combination thereof. Otherwise, he just made it up.

    As for Taylor:
    Taylor falsely claims government scientists are guilty by association. This is the same claim believers make against skeptics. For a believer to object is problematic, unless you are saying believers are wrong when they do this. I find it to be wrong when anyone does it. It’s hypocritical and I will point that out to whomever does it. You or any one. If skeptics are shills of oil companies then government scientists are shills of politics. That’s just how it works. Skeptics get frustrated with me for pointing this out on a regular basis. I still point it out to whoever makes the claim.

    Perhaps you could be more specific about what you thought this blog was about. I thought I made it clear I was watching the Watching the Deniers blog and commenting on it. What is it that you are looking for here that you are not finding, outside of agreement with your beliefs?

    • Lazarus says:

      “What are my degrees in? What do I do for a living? What fields have I worked in?”

      Well here is the rub. I don’t profess to have any formal education at all. I make no claim to work in any field because if I did I would be appealing to my authority as you have done yours. I would not expect anyone to be gullible enough to believe anything I say in a blog or a comment even if I claimed to be James Hansen’s mentor. But that is exactly what you propose people do by ducking expertise and peer review – the promotion of ignorance.

      So I don’t expect anyone with an ounce of critical thinking to take any of my claims seriously based on my alleged education because I can provide no proof of my academic qualifications and experience, but what I would expect them to do is check my claims and links and critically analyse them, and reject them if they are not supported by credible research, data and expertise from people with a track record in that field and also deemed credible by other experts in similar or closely related fields (peers), because that is the scientific standard for sorting the wheat from the chaff, the science from the pseudo-science. It is faith in the self correcting scientific method, not the scientists I have. That quality control is what is totally missing from what you think is superior to the scientific method and publication of its results.

      Unfortunately you have no idea how peer review works and suffer from sever Dunning Kruger, thinking it is some sort of old boys club.

      “He merely jumped to humans to because it’s what he wanted.”

      Embarrassingly wrong. He applied the scientific method in studying human emissions and discovered we are changing the composition of the atmosphere – well actually he didn’t, that was done over a century before but he refined and added to the research along with other Physicists who were studying the atmosphere.

      “As for Taylor:”

      So you have no objection to his misrepresenting scientific research to suggest exactly the opposite? Does his article pass your non-peer review?

      • PeterB in Indianapolis says:

        Hansen did NOT apply the scientific method, and neither did many other so-called climate scientists. The scientific method clearly states that you must form an hypothesis, clearly differentiate it from a suitable null hypothesis, and then use actual experimental data with clearly explained and easily justifiable adjustments and homogenization of your data, and then you must share your experimental design, data processing algorithms, and results with others in the scientific community so that they may attempt to replicate your results, thereby corroborating or rejecting your hypothesis.

        Firstly, Hansen and many others keep changing, adding to, and deleting from their hypothesis which makes it unfalsifiable. If you claim that “snow in England will be a thing of the past” within a few years, and then a few years later when England has 3 or 4 snowy winters in a row you claim, “the snowy winters are additional proof of global warming” you cannot claim to actually be doing science.

        If you continually and repeatedly adjust past temperatures (especially pre-1950) in a downward direction, and continually and repeatedly adjust “modern” temperatures (especially 1960-present) upwards, without any real justification, and without sharing the reasons or algorithms used for doing so, you aren’t doing real science, especially if you are trying to PROVE a warming trend. What better way to show a warming trend than to adjust past data downwards while simultaneously adjusting present data upwards? By the way, you can find archived NASA GISS graphs many places which SHOW the exact adjustments I am talking about and you can easily see the major adjustments that have been made, so I am not just “making stuff up”, I have seen the archived temperature plots and compared them to the modern temperature plots, and they have managed to “disappear” the hot 1930’s, and the cold 1970’s almost completely.

        To claim that someone is following the scientific method is great, but in the case of an alarming number of climate scientists, it is easily demonstrable that they are NOT doing so.

  9. Lazarus says:

    “How can you possibly know what I do or do not recommend outside of this blog?

    It must be so tiring missing the point all the time. What you would recommend outside this blog has no relevance to the logic. It seems that you will constantly misunderstand (purposefully I suspect) that you cant recommend ‘research’ from blogs or where ever about climate without logically recommending it for every subject that is normally researched and peer reviewed. So what you are doing, whether you see it or not is wilfully promoting ignorance to all about all.

    There is no teaching of critical thinking here, you are not showing how the sources you recommend are flawed and misleading because you do know yourself why they are. I recommend you read ‘Demon Haunted World’ by Carl Sagan, even if you don’t accept what he says you will at least hopefully understand what critical thinking amounts too and why true sceptics quickly dismiss the sources your beliefs rely on. It would also be useful for you to learn about the peer reviewed process and how it works because you clearly don’t but I don’t have the time to waste trying to educate you especially since you seem determined to hold onto you erroneous beliefs on the subject.

    By coincidence, another interesting, if shorter read is this article;

    Interestingly it is initially about James Taylor from Heartland misrepresenting research in a blog that was recommended to me by one of you commentators James, who I assume was too embarrassed by his gullibility when it transpired that even the researchers didn’t agree with Taylor’s claims, because he refused to admit Taylor was wrong. But the article goes to look at the nature of expertise in science. If you cant grasp my point perhaps you will be able to understand this.

    I’d be interested to know if you still think your method of allowing people to be exposed to all sorts on nonsense and expecting them to evaluate without relevant experience is better than a record of peer reviewed publishing.

    I’d also be interested in knowing your opinion of James Taylor and his misrepresenting the science, even if that misrepresentation supports much of what you believe.

    BTW Hansen never used ” the Intelligent Design argument”, he showed, as many climate scientists now have, that the current warming trend cannot be explained through natural processes. It is only when you add the anthropogenic component to the data that it adds up.

  10. How can you possibly know what I do or do not recommend outside of this blog? Where have you read my position on alternative medicine, wind turbines, psychic healing, prayer and whatever else you presume me to be on the wrong side of? I recommend skepticism and examination of science in all areas.

    I am promoting teaching critical thinking and scientific method so you can tell when someone is presenting bad information.

    Really, you know what doctors I see and what I believe each does? You seem to be claiming psychic powers there.

    That research shows 97% is so flawed. Had I been stupid enough to try writing up such drivel in college, I most certainly would have been flunked.

    The link only shows that climate scientists believe anointing themselves with the title “appropriate authority” will some how convince people not to ask hard questions. It was meant to show scientists are guilty of using the “argument from authority” fallacy.

    Again, peer-review as authority means nothing except you could get a bunch of peers to vote for your paper. If publishing does not endow someone with special knowledge, then why are all scientists who don’t publish considered unworthy of being climate scientists. Unlike in your doctor example, these people have exactly the same qualifications as the skeptic scientists do. Publishing is the only difference–thus, special knowledge.

    Last question: I read it, understood it and rejected it as an appeal to authority fallacy.

    • john byatt says:

      If you want to see bad information, just look at creation science.

      • Among a multitude of others. It is interesting to note, however, that is was reported that James Hansen tried using the Intelligent Design argument by saying that the current warming was just not statistically possible so we must be the ones causing it. Not a good move on his part.`

  11. Your assumption certainly does leap far beyond any I have seen in a long, long time. You get a gold star for that. There is nothing in logic that says I have to follow your definition of what an “anarchist” should believe, even if you were a certified authority on the matter. Your assumptions are, to put it plainly, idiotic. Where did I say I “recommend” alternative treatments? You seriously believe that one can draw out what someone believes from one statement? That could explain why you follow authorities–lack of critical thinking ability. (Yes, I do study all of the things you mentioned. And read articles from medical journals. It’s called being well-rounded in my learning.)

    Better idea for research: Publication by whatever medium one wants. Internet, journals (without peer review), whatever. If people don’t know what to believe as a result, I cannot see how they could be any worse off than now. Most just believe whatever they are told by whomever they think is an authority or person with power. We could also teach people basic scientific method and that any group that resorts to name calling is not science. That should cut down the number of studies people consider.

    It is completely valid to ask how publishing endows people with special knowledge. Climate science claims only published writers count. So either they gain special knowledge via publishing or they won the popularity contest and got published. Pick one–and it’s not a false dichotomy–those are the two choices. They are not the best and the brightest–or I sincerely hope not. (See my note on the latest peer-reviewed medical journal study. That’s the BEST medicine can do???)

    Does having a medical degree make you a gynocologist? Not by title. Family practice physicians can to pap smears, request mammograms, deliver babies. So by activity, yes.

    The post has been expanded with comments on physicians and why the argument from authority is not valid there either.

    I understood Tony to say climate scientists do not make the argument from authority. This link shows them clearly doing so. Perhaps I misunderstood Tony.

    • Lazarus says:

      “Where did I say I “recommend” alternative treatments?”

      You still don’t get it. The point is that you are not recommending that anyone should take alternative theories and science seriously EXCEPT for the subject that you don’t want to accept. Your thinking is logically flawed unless you do.

      “Publication by whatever medium one wants. Internet, journals (without peer review), whatever. If people don’t know what to believe as a result, I cannot see how they could be any worse off than now.”

      So parents are exposed to as much information saying vaccines are more dangerous to their children than the diseases they will prevent. No harm in that? Your children are taught in school that it is just as likely the Flintstones is based on truth as any other theory – are you seriously promoting that ignorance as harmless?

      “It is completely valid to ask how publishing endows people with special knowledge.”

      No it isn’t because it doesn’t and you wont find one researcher even suggesting it does. You are yourself ignorant of how science works.

      “Family practice physicians can to pap smears, request mammograms, deliver babies. So by activity, yes.”

      Do you have any idea what a gynaecologist actually does? Sorry don’t answer that, you have made it clear you don’t. My wife does smears but you wouldn’t want her giving someone a hysterectomy – well actually YOU might!

      Your link to Tony shows why you should listen to climate experts. It specifically says;

      “The National Academy of Sciences of the U.S. (set up by President Abraham Lincoln to advise on scientific issues), as well as major national academies of science around the world and every other authoritative body of scientists active in climate research have stated that the science is clear: The world is heating up and humans are primarily responsible.”
      “Research shows that more than 97% of scientists actively publishing in the field agree that climate change is real and human caused. It would be an act of recklessness for any political leader to disregard the weight of evidence and ignore the enormous risks that climate change clearly poses.”

      Didn’t you read it or don’t you understand it?

      • PeterB in Indianapolis says:

        The 97% of scientists story is, was, and always has been a HUGE fallacy in and of itself. First of all, they surveyed over 3000 scientists and asked them 2 somewhat vague questions. They THREW OUT all but 77 of the responses, and then claimed the 97% figure based on the fact that 73 out of the 77 responses they hand-selected agreed with their premises in the 2 questions.

        One of the questions posed was: “Do you believe human beings are having a significant impact on the climate of the planet?”

        Any real scientist would be foolish to say “no” to this question, because, in statistics, anything over 5% effect is considered statistically significant. Therefore, since I believe that human activities including land use changes, burning of fossil fuels, emission of aerosols, and a multitude of other factors might, in TOTAL, be influencing the climate (in several different ways and directions) by more than 5%, I would most certainly say, “YES” to that question.

        However, I also happen to be convinced by the myriad of papers which I have read that the human contribution to the overall concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is paltry and insignificant and, in and of itself, is having very little measurable effect on the climate as a whole.

        As such, if they had surveyed me, I would have been one of those scientists (and yes, I am a scientist) who would have agreed with the premise of the above-quoted question, but I am distinctly NOT a believer in significant CAGW, even though I do agree with the question.

  12. Lazarus says:


    I don’t understand the reason for your link. Doesn’t it make Tonys case?

    As for your reply to me – your first link is broken. The second says not to listen to authorities, but experts. Most fallacious arguments from authority use real authorities, but they are not experts in the area they are commenting on. If you are going to promote the wisdom of Sagan perhaps you shouldn’t cherry pick, he was convinced by the body of evidence supporting AGW.

    But your rewriting history is unforgivable. Sagan (and I’m a fan) did not formulate “a crude theory based on CO2 and Hansen ran with it”. Sagan used radio emissions to calculate planetary temperatures. He did this form among other, Venus and Hansen, who studied under James Van Allen BTW, refined that, as science builds on science, but proposed aerosols/clouds were the cause. Sagans views on the greenhouse warming of Venus are likely because of the work by Hansen and other Atmospheric Physicists.

    You have misunderstood my point about cancer patients. I am not telling you to force people into treatment. What I mean is if you are recommending ‘alternative’ science other than peer review and expert knowledge then logically you must apply that thinking across the board. If you are suggesting that people should take your views on this seriously then you should be promoting such ‘anarchist’ thinking on all matters. So we must assume you favour blogs about Homoeopathy. physic healing, and the power of prayer over the research published in journals like the Lancet. You must favour creation science with man coexisting with dinosaurs over evolutionary research published in PNAS.

    You cant logically just reserve your anti peer review stance for a single branch of science. So what I want to know is how you suggest people exert some quality control over the ‘research and evidence’ you are recommending? Do you have a better or even credible alternative for the research world to follow?

    If you believe publishing a study is supposed to endow the writer with super authority then you have created your own straw man and managed to fool yourself with it. It shows a complete lack of the way modern scientific research works.

    This lack of understanding is compounded by you thinking that asking what scientific qualifications mean someone is a climatologist, is a sensible question. None might, all could be. Does having a medical degree make you a gynaecologist? You also left out many independent core disciplines that researchers have had that contribute to the large work of research that under pins anthropogenic climate change. You could add chemistry, biology, oceanography, computer science, glaciology, etc.

  13. Tony: My opening line was “Much of the power of the CAGW position”. This was meant to refer to the power outside the science community mostly. Perhaps I should have been somewhat clearer. However, you do pose a very valid question and I will search through my research and see if I can find such arguments. You are asking how many climate scientists make the claim that they are authorities and should not be questioned, right? (In the mean time, does refusal to release data and requiring FOIA requests count as a variation of this argument or is it just stubbornness? I have read numerous cases where the data was not released for years. I’m just trying to clarify what the criteria is, not being stubborn. I want to be sure what you are asking is what I think you are asking.)

    In science, “group think” is the most common accusation I hear leveled against climate scientists. The validity of the research on this and the use of term goes to how the label was determined and applied. I am still out on how much I think this affects the science.

  14. Tony Duncan says:


    could you please point out an argument made by climate scientists that is based on an appeal to authority and not based on scientific evidence? that is waht you are saying in this post. that scientists are making claims based on the reputation of the person who assserts something and not on the validity of the science.
    the most common claim is that Earth’s current warming is unusual. Say Michael Mann’s study. Yet his paer from 1998 was not just uncritically accepted. Numeorus other researchers ahve attempted temperature determinations using a wide variety of methods, both similar and different from his, and all have come up with similar results. the most recent of course being the BEST reconstruction, which is possibly the most comprehensive temperature study for the globe ever done, and it had both Muller and Curry in it, who have both been extremely skeptical of global temperature studies. Muller going so far as to say that Mann’s work was so bad he would not ever read a nother paper of his. Yet theor study was almsot exactly the same as Mann’s results for the time period covered.
    pelase detail which conclusions are being based on personality and “authority” as opposed to valid research.
    I can certainly point out numerous denier arguments that are not based on science, but are based on distorted science. Again one of my main determinants of whetehr someone is a denier is if they do not contest any argument as long as it is against ACC.


    Carl Sagan was the inspiration for James Hansen. Sagan formulated a crude theory based on CO2 and Hansen ran with it. As for theory that Venus was once like earth, it’s pure conjecture with no scientific evidence. It is necessary to postulate that runaway greenhouse effect COULD occur, not that it’s probable.

    Cancer patients have the right to try whatever they want. I am not someone’s nanny and would not FORCE anyone to undergo treatment they are opposed to. If that makes me an “anarchist”, so be it. I wear the title proudly.

    You did not in anyway explain why publishing a study endows the writer with super authority. Please do so. Explain how publishing shows you are super smart. Examples, please.
    Nor did you address which scientists are climate scientists. Give it a go.

  16. Lazarus says:

    I find it interesting that you misquote Carl Sagan, who as far as I can tell did not say there were no authorities in science. The closest I can find is a quote;

    (Science) “is by far the best tool we have, self-correcting, ongoing, applicable to everything. It has two rules. First: there are no sacred truths; all assumptions must be critically examined; arguments from authority are worthless.”

    Which is not the same as you are suggesting. Can you spot the difference?

    Also interesting is that Sagan has said;

    “The world scientific community has begun to sound the alarm about the grave dangers posed by depleting the protective ozone shield and by greenhouse warming”

    “Those who are skeptical about carbon dioxide greenhouse warming might profitably note the massive greenhouse effect on Venus. No one proposes that Venus’s greenhouse effect derives from imprudent Venusians who burned too much coal, drove fuel-inefficient autos, and cut down their forests. My point is different. The climatological history of our planetary neighbor, an otherwise Earthlike planet on which the surface became hot enough to melt tin or lead, is worth considering — especially by those who say that the increasing greenhouse effect on Earth will be self-correcting, that we don’t really have to worry about it, or (you can see this in the publications of some groups that call themselves conservative) that the greenhouse effect is a “hoax”. ”

    But Carl Sagan was not an authority on Human induced climate change, he just accepted majority conclusions of the research done by the scientists that were.

    Interesting again is your anarchist nature in rejecting peer review for climate related science. If you are not proposing it for all science, i.e. encouraging cancer patient to try homoeopathy, then we must wonder is it just because the accepted science is not telling you what you want to hear?

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